PLANT BREEDING & GENETICS

Plant breeding: Plant breeding is the science driven creative process of developing new plant varieties that goes by various names including cultivar development, crop improvement, and seed improvement. Breeding involves the creation of multi-generation genetically diverse populations on which human selection is practiced to create adapted plants with new combinations of specific desirable traits. The selection process is driven by biological assessment in relevant target environments and knowledge of genes and genomes.   Progress is assessed based on gain under selection, which is a function of genetic variation, selection intensity, and time.

Other Published Definitions

"Plant Breeding is the art and science of the genetic improvement of plants." Fehr, Principles of Cultivar Development: Theory and Technique, 1987

"Plant Breeding is the art and science of changing the traits of plants in order to product desired characteristics."Sleper and Poehlman, Breeding Field Crops, 1995

"Plant Breeding is the genetic improvement of plants for human benefit."Bernardo, Breeding for Quantitative Traits in Plants, 2010.

Plant genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity specifically in plants.It is generally considered a field of biology and botany, but intersects frequently with many other life sciences and is strongly linked with the study of information systems. Plant genetics is similar in many ways to animal genetics but differs in a few key areas.

The discoverer of genetics was Gregor Mendel, a late 19th-century scientist and Augustinian friar. Mendel studied "trait inheritance", patterns in the way traits are handed down from parents to offspring. He observed that organisms (most famously pea plants) inherit traits by way of discrete "units of inheritance". This term, still used today, is a somewhat ambiguous definition of what is referred to as a gene. Much of Mendel's work with plants still forms the basis for modern plant genetics.

Plants, like all known organisms, use DNA to pass on their traits. Animal genetics often focuses on parentage and lineage, but this can sometimes be difficult in plant genetics due to the fact that plants can, unlike most animals, be self-fertile. Speciation can be easier in many plants due to unique genetic abilities, such as being well adapted to polyploidy. Plants are unique in that they are able to produce energy dense carbohydrates via photosynthesis, a process which is achieved by use of chloroplasts. Chloroplasts, like the superficially similar mitochondria, possess their own DNA. Chloroplasts thus provide an additional reservoir for genes and genetic diversity, and an extra layer of genetic complexity not found in animals.

The study of plant genetics has major economic impacts: many staple crops are genetically modified to increase yields, confer pest and disease resistance, provide resistance to herbicides, or to increase their nutritional value.